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Jerry Desmonde
Born James Robert Sadler
20 July 1908(1908-07-20)
England Linthorpe, Middlesbrough, England
Died 11 February 1967 (aged 58)
London, England
Occupation musical theatre performer, comedy foil, presenter and game show host, film, TV and radio actor
Spouse(s) Peggy Duncan (until his death), two children

Jerry Desmonde (20 July 1908 - 11 February 1967) was an English stage musical, film, and television actor principally in comedies and drama. He is probably best known as a straight man to Norman Wisdom. Jerry is sometimes credited as Jerry Desmond.[1]


Early life and career

Jerry Desmonde was born James Robert Sadler in Linthorpe, Middlesbrough into a family of music hall performers who toured the halls in Scotland, North East England, and Yorkshire.[2]

Sadler first appeared on stage at the age of eleven and later became part of his family's act The Four Sadlers.[3] He built a career as a song and dance man in musical theatre and later toured parts of the United States in 1927-1928 with Beatrice Lillie and Noel Coward in the two-act revue This Year of Grace.[3][4] By 1934 he had married Peggy Duncan and they toured as a double act called Peg and Jerry, largely in Scotland.[3]

Later career

In the 1940s, Desmonde was briefly a straight man for Scottish comedian Dave Willis and in 1942 he was invited to be straight man for stage comedian Sid Field becoming one of the most celebrated comedy teams ever to appear on stage.[2][3] They appeared together on stage in three very successful revues, Strike a New Note (1943)[5] and Strike it Again (1944)[6] and Piccadilly Hayride (1946)[7] at the Prince of Wales Theatre, London and in two films, London Town (1946)[8] an infamous flop, and in The Cardboard Cavalier (1949).[1] The two men next worked together on a stage play, Harvey at the Prince of Wales Theatre, from which Desmonde was ultimately sacked.[3] In 1950 a few months later, during the play's run Sid Field died of a heart attack.

As Sir Hector, governor of Sir Godrics Hospital (far right), he fends off an unwelcomed intruder Pitkin (played by Norman Wisdom, second from left) who interrupts in one of his duties in welcoming to Lady Brinkley as a potential fund raiser benefactor to the institution (played by Jill Melford, second from right) in the movie A Stitch in Time (1963).

In 1949 Desmonde appeared on television as a presenter in Rooftop Rendesvous.[9] He was a regular panellist and occasional guest host on the original UK version of the television panel game What's My Line? (1951-1962),[2][10][11][12] and appeared in several TV comedies namely, Holiday Camp (1951) with Arthur Askey,[13] A Flight of Fancy (1952) with Jimmy Young, then a singer working as a comedian, Before Your Very Eyes (1956-58) with Arthur Askey,[14] and Bud in 1963 a sitcom with Bud Flanagan and other members of the Crazy Gang.[15] He also appeared in episodes of the television series A Question of Happiness (1964),[16] The Plane Makers (1964),[17] The Villains (1965), No Hiding Place (1965), The Mask of Janus (1965),[18] and Vendetta (1966) (1966).[1]

As a game show host he hosted ATV's Hit The Limit (1956)[19] and The 64,000 Question (1956)[20] television gameshows and in October 1956 Jerry appeared on the front cover of TV Times magazine.[21] On radio Jerry appeared with Bob Hope on the Bob Hope Show (1951)[22][23][24][25][26][27][28][29] and (1954)[25] the CBS radio play The Incredible History of John Shepherd (1954),[30] and occasionally presented Housewives' Choice[2][31 ] on the BBC's Light Programme.

Desmonde continued to appear on the London stage in Where's Charley? (1958)[32] a theatre musical production of the play Charley's Aunt with Norman Wisdom, and in the short-lived Belle (1961)[33][34][35][36][37] alternatively titled The Ballad of Dr Crippen a music hall musical with George Benson and Rose Hill.

Jerry Desmonde was in numerous movies from 1946 to 1965 including several comedies with Norman Wisdom, and starred in several others.[1][38] The Wisdom films usually involved the gump character (Wisdom) in a junior position to a 'straight man' superior, often played by Edward Chapman, and fighting against the unfairness wrought by some 'authority figure', often played by Jerry Desmonde.[39]

Personal life

He was married to Peggy Duncan.[3] They had two children, a daughter Jacqueline and son Gerald.[1] After world war II Desmonde and his family settled in London and his daughter Jacqueline married clarinetist Peter Howes the son of actor Bobby Howes.[1]

Later Desmond worked as a minicab driver in London until becoming depressed; following a comparatively trivial argument with his business partner, he took his own life[3][31 ][40] in 1967.[41]




  1. ^ a b c d e f Jerry Desmonde, Internet Movie Database
  2. ^ a b c d Jerry Desmonde, Alan Myers Project
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Keith Proud, A lesser-known actor who was friend to big screen stars, North East History, The Northern Echo
  4. ^ a b This Year of Grace, Internet Broadway Database
  5. ^ a b Sandra Sudley, Lunchbox, Whirligig
  6. ^ a b Adam Benedick, Obituary: Roberta Huby, The Independent
  7. ^ a b Rob Wilton, Personality, Theatricalia
  8. ^ Roger Mellor, London Town - 1946,
  9. ^ Rooftop Rendezvous, British Film Institute
  10. ^ Gerry George, What's My Line?, Jerry George's Memories, 1950s British Television Nostalgia, Whirligig
  11. ^ What's My Line?,
  12. ^ The Box, Greasy Spoon Cafe
  13. ^ Holiday Camp, British Film Institute
  14. ^ Matthew Coniam, Before Your Very Eyes (1956-1958), screenonline, BFI
  15. ^ Jerry Desmonde, The Guide to Comedy
  16. ^ Jacqueline Pearce,
  17. ^ The Plane Makers, British Film Institute
  18. ^ The Mask of Janus, Action TV online
  19. ^ Hit the Limit,
  20. ^ The 64,000 Dollar Question,
  21. ^ TV Times, AOL
  22. ^ The Bob Hope Show, Radio Memories, Audio Classics Archive
  23. ^ Bob Hope, YourRadioShows.Com
  24. ^ Bob Hope, Old Time Radio Show Catalog
  25. ^ a b The Bob Hope Show, Jerry Haendiges Vintage Radio Logs
  26. ^ The Bob Hope Show, Fibbermac's OTR Trading Site, Geocities
  27. ^ Bob Hope Show, Old Time Radio Shows,
  28. ^ Bob Hope, Radio Revisited
  29. ^ The Marilyn Maxwell Collection, Radio of Yesteryear
  30. ^ Premier Collections: Crime Classics, Radio Archives
  31. ^ a b Jerry Desmonde,
  32. ^ Rob Wilton, Musicals 1950s, Theatricalia
  33. ^ a b Rob Wilton, Musicals 1960s, Theatricalia
  34. ^ a b Jack Reading's Programmes 1961, Templeman Library, University of Kent at Canterbury
  35. ^ a b Belle, Musical Heaven
  36. ^ a b Murder Mystery and Mayhem: Belle, British Musical Theatre
  37. ^ a b Belle,
  38. ^ Jerry Desmonde, AllMovie
  39. ^ Steve Crook, British Films and Chat, Britmovie Forum
  40. ^ 1950s British TV Memories, Whirligig
  41. ^ Jerry Desmonde, Find A Grave
  42. ^ Judy Garland At The London Palladium, Judy in London
  43. ^ a b Publicity Postcards Full Colour, Vaudeville Postcards
  44. ^ Painting the Town, The Guide to Musical Theatre
  45. ^ Rob Wilton, Theatre World Magazines 1950s, Theatricalia
  46. ^ Theatre Programs (UK) post 1939,

External links



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